Public School Lowlights
As lawmakers consider the cost-savings and student achievement gains from choice programs in other states, officials at the school boards (SCSBA) and school administrators (SCASA) associations continue to use taxpayer money to lobby bitterly against the legislation.
The state's 85 public school districts are also keeping up their political rhetoric as well as their deeply engrained disregard for students and taxpayers. Here are some of the most recent district lowlights:
TAXPAYER FUNDED VACATIONS:
MARION 2 - harassment fiasco
School Board members are finally trying to take action against one of their own accused of harassing a student in the district.
LEXINGTON 1 - more bureaucrats
The Lexington School District One has hired two new non-teaching administrators and promoted five more. According to a press release, "the district is hiring Stephanie Burgess to serve as assistant administrator and Kalu Kalu Jr. to serve as assistant principal at Lexington High School." Details of salaries and compensation were not provided. Tara D. Black, Christopher C. S. Bussell, Casey B. Calhoun, Nancy Lind, and Sandra P. Vining were all promoted to "assistant administrator" positions. Karen Woodward, the district Superintendent is salaried at $170,000 before benefits.
No word on any new teachers, teacher salary hikes, or increases to the paltry teacher classroom supply stipends.
RICHLAND 2 - remotely tracking kids
The Richland County School District Two is now using RFID tags to track students as they come and go from school each day. The RFID journal reports that " For the pilot, North Springs Elementary School provided SecuraKey RFID-enabled ID cards to approximately 200 parents, known in the system's lingo as "gophers." Upon registering with the system, parents and any other adults authorized to pick up students have their pictures taken at the school office. They provide their names, along with those of their children who are students at the school, and any other kids whom they are permitted to take home."
"Based on the testing results, the district is now installing "the solution" (their name) across all 17 of its elementary schools. District officials have declined to comment on the system's benefits for this story, "but have confirmed that technology is being deployed at its schools." Details of the cost of the program could not be found, as Richland 2 is one of the two public school districts in South Carolina that does not post its expenditures online. There is no information available about parents' right to opt-out.
PICKENS - fuzzy math, more spending
After years and years of reckless spending, theft and a budget vacuum wake-up call, the School District of Pickens County is looking to start slowly increasing spending again. Tucked away in a report about teacher cuts (actually many were "reassignments") and financial woes, the Independent Mail found that K-12 spending would actually rise by at least $300,000 in the County next year.
While the Independent Mail reports an anticipated budget of $95 million, state sources indicated the figure will likely be $189,146,664 when all revenue sources are included in the count. The discrepancy is the result of district self-reporting and their ability to aggregate out non-operational spending from public budgets.
GREENVILLE - tax hike
Greenville County School Board members asked the district administration to investigate the possibility of charging an impact fee on each new home built in the county. The "fee" is not technically a "tax," but would count as local source revenue for the district. The Greenville News has already editorialized against the proposal.